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Raising Questions about Reasonable Accommodations

Bridgewater Tenant Cleaning Dishes in the Kitchen from His WheelchairA lot of property owners will have a lot of questions should a disabled tenant desire to rent a single-family home. Possibly the most crucial question of all is whether or not you are required to renovate your rental home to accommodate a tenant’s disability. The path to success is through knowing the answer to this question and how to handle any requests a tenant makes for renovations.

Disabled renters have many legal protections that afford them protection and single-family rental property owners should educate themselves on this topic. Based on the Fair Housing Act, individuals with a disability are protected from discrimination when renting or buying a home, applying for a mortgage, and seeking housing assistance. In order for a disabled person to live comfortably and safely, the Act also requires landlords to allow “reasonable accommodations” to be made to the rental house. For instance, a tenant in a wheelchair might want to install grab bars in the shower or tub for easier access or install a ramp, whereas someone with limited hand use may need special faucets or door handles installed.

These sorts of accommodations detail the necessary distinction between giving tenant permission to modify a rental house at his or her own expense and is required to do it for them. Even though the law clearly states that a property owner should allow reasonable modifications, it does not require landlords to pay for them. Under the Act, your tenant should apply for prior approval from you in advance of the start of any work. You can even legally require them to return the rental house to its original condition upon moving out. You can even request that your tenant provide a detailed description of the proposed changes, require that they provide proof that the undertaking will be fulfilled according to your standards, and compel them to obtain any necessary building permits or owners association approval should it be necessary.

Be that as it may, as the property owner, you cannot outright refuse reasonable accommodations or refuse to change policies or practices that would prevent a disabled tenant from using the house. This covers requests for service animals and other accommodations that may otherwise violate the terms of your lease. Furthermore, you absolutely cannot charge a disabled tenant more rent for customizing the accommodations, too. Any effort to set terms or conditions different from those of other tenants is a clear violation of Fair Housing laws.

As often as not, finding your way through the Fair Housing Act while renting your single-family home to a disabled tenant can be quite the challenge. Reading as much as you possibly can about the law and what you legally can and cannot do will do a lot to help, but the best option is to obtain help from property management professionals who have a background in renting single-family homes to tenants with disabilities.

Here at Real Property Management NJ Elite, we are driven to abide by the strict adherence of all the requirements of the Fair Housing Act. We possess the capability and professionalism to come to the aid of rental property owners like you. With our help, you’ll be able to follow rental practices that are well within the limits of the law. Our organization of Bridgewater property management professionals can answer any questions you have and assist in keeping you out of legal trouble. Contact us online or call us at 908-955-7487 to know how we can help you.

We are pledged to the letter and spirit of U.S. policy for the achievement of equal housing opportunity throughout the Nation. See Equal Housing Opportunity Statement for more information.